SAYRE — Sayre’s defense stole the show in a 35-17 win over Montgomery at homecoming Saturday night.

The Redskins “D” limited Montgomery to 11 yards of offense and no first downs in a 19 minute, 22 second stretch of the second half. During that run, Sayre picked off two passes and put 27 points on the board.

The game started out fine for the Redskins. Montgomery had one first down before being forced to punt after taking the opening kickoff.

Sayre was set up at Montgomery’s 30-yard line when the snap evaded the Red Raiders punter. Behind some hard running by Isaiah Firestine and a 15-yard pass from Brayden Horton to Zach Watkins on a fourth-and-six, the Redskins took the ball to the 1-yard line. Horton punched it in from there. A penalty on the PAT prompted the Redskins to go for two and Horton ran it in around the right side.

Firestine finished with 123 yards and a TD on 22 carries. He knew going in that he’d get a heavy load.

“We saw how Wellsboro came out and ran the ball and felt they were vulnerable,” said Firestine. “We also pass well, but we started running the ball and it kept working. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Montgomery showed that it could move the ball when the Red Raiders got it back. Quarterback Logan Almeida found a couple of gaps in Sayre’s defense and Kaide Drick was finding room. With a third-and-10 from Sayre’s 17-yard line, though, Almeida sent a pass over the middle that ended up in the arms of a diving Elmer Stevens.

After a short punt, Montgomery set up at Sayre’s 36-yard line. An Almeida-to-Maurice Walters connection picked up 24 yards. Two runs and a pass didn’t accomplish much, so Montgomery had to settle for a 24-yard Gabe McNear field goal.

After a series of punts and a turnover on downs, Montgomery’s offense found its groove. Starting off in the air — Almeida threw for 51 of the 65 yards on the drive — the Red Raiders also got some good offensive production on the ground. The Red Raiders eventually pushed the ball to the 1-yard line. Two runs went nowhere, but Almeida backed his way in on the third, and NcNear tacked on the PAT to put the Red Raiders up 10-8 with three seconds left in the half.

“I told them this was not a team to take lightly,” saiid Gorman. “They have some nice piecs. If you let them play around, they believe they can win. I’m glad that in the second half we changed that.”

Sayre turned the ball over the first time it had it in the second half, but the Redskins’ defense was about to step up.

A series of punts, Sayre’s a 50-yarder by Lucas Horton, ensued with Sayre getting the ball at its 43-yard line. Modest gains on the ground picked up one first down, then a 15-yard punch up the gut by Pat Casterline on a quick-hitter left the Redskins just outside the red zone. Brayden Horton then hit Corbin Brown on a 26-yard post and the Redskins took the lead back. Nic Bentley connected for the PAT and Sayre was up 15-10 with 1:54 to go in the third quarter.

Then the ball started rolling.

On Montgomery’s second snap, Ethan Miller stepped in front of an intended receiver and gave Sayre the ball at Montgomery’s 47-yard line. By now, the Sayre line was beginning to take control. The Redskins ran the ball effectively to the Red Raiders’ 12-yard line before Brayden Horton hit David Northrup on a scoring strike and Bentley hit the PAT for a 22-10 lead with 9:57 to play.

“When we start getting in a groove, we’d just throw anybody in their way,” said Firestine.

Feeling the pressure to score, Montgomery took a chance on a fourth-and-six from its 37-yard line. The gamble failed to pay off, though, and Sayre had the ball in great field position. A 20-yard Brayden Horton-to-Northrup connection on the first play and a 17-yard Casterline run set the table. Brayden Horton then hit Miller for a five-yard TD toss with 6:37 to play.

“They started stacking the box and we caught them with a couple of play action (passes),” said Gorman. “They were bringing more and more line in to try to control Isaiah and Pat, we caught them with David (Northrup), Corbin (Brown), and Ethan (Miller). It’s always a good time when you can do that.”

Brayden Horton didn’t have a huge day, but he did hit eight of 14 passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

Zach Watkins picked off Almeida on Montgomery’s next play from scrimmage and returned it 54 yards to the Red Raiders’ 1-yard line. Firestine waltzed in from there and with 6:06 left, the win was in the bag.

With a number of Sayre starters watching from the sidelines, Montgomery finally was able to move the ball. Seven plays later, Drick was in the end zone after a 26-yard run. NcNear’s PAT kick ended the scoring and Sayre finished off the game on the ground and declined to snap the ball with a first-and-goal at Montgomery’s 1-yard line.

Sayre will begin a five-game road swing Friday night at Wyalusing.

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